The West has ‘essentially stolen’ Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, says Kremlin

(Kitco News) Moscow said Western countries used sanctions to steal its gold and foreign exchange reserves.

“In general, a large part of our assets have been essentially stolen by specific Western countries,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday after being asked about a proposal by the European Union to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine.

The proposal reporters referred to was an idea by European Council head Charles Michel that the bloc should consider transferring frozen Russian reserves to Ukraine.

“These are absolutely illegal actions, they are contrary to international law. This is an attack on public and private property … Making decisions such as those you spoke about [transferring Russia’s frozen assets to help Ukraine] will be another step in violating all the rules and norms of international law,” Peskov added.

The comment coincided with the eight-month mark of Russia invading Ukraine on February 24.

The unprecedented Western sanctions introduced against Russia for its actions have frozen around half of Moscow’s $640 billion worth of gold and foreign exchange reserves.

Earlier this year, countries including the EU, U.S., UK, Canada, Switzerland, and Japan also banned imports of Russian gold. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) suspended its accreditation of Russian precious metals refiners, barring them from selling new products in London.

Russia’s Finance Ministry said back in August that the action paralyzed Russia’s precious metals activities and was a critical negative factor. This contradicted what many analysts have dubbed a largely symbolic move by the LBMA.

Last week, a Russian finance ministry official said Moscow was in talks with the Shanghai Gold Exchange to get access to precious metals trading. 

At the same time, Russia’s central bank deputy governor Aleksey Zabotkin told reporters that purchasing more gold to increase the country’s official reserves was counter-productive for Russia at the moment because it increased the nation’s money supply.

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